November 1, 2009

Incivilities to bicycles coming to Melbourne

The hire-a-bike scheme always sounded a bit of a worry to my little mind, built on trust and faith, suitable, perhaps, for some earlier gentler time, when women wore large long skirts and men were skinny and grimy.
"In an unsuccessful effort to stop vandalism, Paris began an advertising campaign this summer. Posters showed a cartoon Vélib’ being roughed up by a thug. The caption read: “It’s easy to beat up a Vélib’, it can’t defend itself. Vélib’ belongs to you, protect it!”
Damned catchy slogan. We'll be needed one just like it sometime late next year, or thereabouts.

I don't know if the Melbourne hire-bikes will be anything like the expensive models being trashed and stolen over in France, but with an 80% hit rate, perhaps the lesson for Melbourne will be cheap, disposable bicycles.

"this latest French utopia has met a prosaic reality: Many of the specially designed bikes, which cost $3,500 each, are showing up on black markets in Eastern Europe and northern Africa. Many others are being spirited away for urban joy rides, then ditched by roadsides, their wheels bent and tires stripped.

With 80 percent of the initial 20,600 bicycles stolen or damaged, the program’s organizers have had to hire several hundred people just to fix them."

Although not to retrieve them. The stolen bikes remain stolen.

We can look forward to many a creative Herald-Sun headline when the hire-a-bike scheme is introduced mid-2010, when our incivilities toward each other will, following the French example, no doubt become incivilities to innocent bicycles.

I can't wait.

French ideal of bicycle sharing meets reality

Melbourne to get European-style bike hire program


  1. Very interesting regarding the Velib being viewed by certain parts of Parisian society as a symbol of the "trendy urban middle class". Didn't they used to be called "yuppie scum"?

  2. Ahh. Gay Paris. First the trendy urban middle class cut the heads off the aristocracy. Then the dorky provincial middle class cut the heads off the trendy urban middle class. Then the fashion challenged, decidedly uncool, urban proletariat cut the heads off ...

    Liberty Equality Fraternity

  3. In Melbourne we still call them yuppie scum.

    Oh, wait.

    That might only be me.

    The bikes aren't even a twinkle yet, and already the knives are out, with accusations that it's all just a devious way to provide advertising for the state gov't in the lead up to the next election. The bikes, as with any movable or non-movable, good or service funded by gov't, will proudly announce that funding has been provided by the gov't. Jeez politics is a dirty business.

    We have a Paris-end of Collins Street Geoff, which must mean that we have a gay-Paris-end of Collins Street. Odd really, since there's nothing especially Parisian about it. Maybe if they put most of the bike-hire racks there we'll all start speaking with French accents, and sing the praises of the Brumby gov't.